No Room in the Warrior Society

. . . for a boy who won’t fight. I thought I read it in The Nurture Assumption, Judith Rich Harris, but I can’t find it. It may have been in one of some shorter papers I’ve read by her, or one of Steven Pinker’s books, I’ll keep looking, but it was in one of those very popular science books, so the idea is out there. If it was in anything I’ve read, then it wasn’t one of those author’s own papers originally . . . I’ll have to find it to cite it, won’t I? Anyhow, I think the story was in support of the Nurture Assumption’s main idea, that parents do not create child culture, and she describes how in some straight-up forest warrior society, that warrior training occurs in boyhood and timid, won’t fight sorts of boys are abused and goaded into fighting. Those that never do, in this group, according to these anthropologists – Mead? The Yanomamo? – those that never return the blows, are killed as the logical end of the process of fighting them to make them fight. I believe it was the author’s punch line I’m paraphrasing in my opening. No room for weak links, we might need you some day.

Not that I think it would have helped, but I wish I’d had a man around to tell me that fifty-some years ago. Between that and a little info on inherent family conflicts, maybe I would have had a chance not to believe everything Momma tol’ me.

I’ve been a good boy, tried hard and mostly succeeded, but by women’s standards, abused women’s standards. In the boys’ culture of game theory, in the warrior society where I’m supposed to be a man, I am useless. I mean, I passed the tests, the boys’ tests, when I was little, I was a fearless little Irish terror for a while there, but that ended at the beginning of puberty, apparently. The fights I got into after I was twelve or so, I never had any interest in, and I talked the fellow down when I could and avoided him if it seemed like the encounter was destined to imprint the warrior life on my pretty young face. I absolutely let fear rule my life, I switched high schools once and wound up giving up school entirely after that. There were other reasons, but that was absolutely one of them. I just realized something.

I never fantasized winning the fights I avoided.

I mean, I fantasize fight situations, I’m a man, I run little simulations, I tell myself that if some badass walked in my door to do me in, that I would have a chance, a plan – but I don’t think I have ever had a daydream where I won a fight against these bullies from my life. Realism may be a factor, I really had zero chance, size, experience, and everything else would have been a hundred to one sort of a thing. My only chance would have been to surprise them with a knife or something, and even then, size and experience. Plus, these dudes guaranteed had switchblades of their own – and experience. But to never fantasize a thing like that? My gonads aren’t working, right? I lived in terror, changed my life – but I wouldn’t want the fight even if I knew I could win it. It’s not like I’ve been going around getting into fights I think I can win either! Are we there yet?

No room for me in this world, is what I’m saying. No room for a man who won’t be a man. Maybe I was nine or ten when I stopped fighting, it was one my childhood experiments, I guess I thought I’d try to unload on someone.

There was this Zeta (I better look that up too) juvenile male, the one everybody seemed to unload on, it seemed that everyone beat this kid, I don’t know why, but he was my age, nine, ten, and he looked like The Battler already, anything that was going to flatten out or break on Rodney’s face already was, you know? This is certainly an unfair characterization; it’s a childhood memory and I know I’m using Rodney now for my own ends. I’m sorry, Rod, if you’re still out there. All I really remember is his wide forehead and hard, sharp nose – he kept his chin tucked, I guess. I’m not happy with my impulse in this story, all I can say is, I’m happy it only happened once.

I decided I would unload on this kid, that I would give beating someone up a try, see if I liked it or something. I don’t think I thought “unload” at the time, that’s how I see it now, having taken from schooling from the Master of Stress, Dr. Robert Sapolsky. I found him after school or something, cornered him and started throwing punches at him, hurting my hands on him and then I just had this WTF am I doing moment right in the middle of it and I stopped, apologized, told him I had no idea why I was doing it and I think I promised him he’d have no more to worry about from me. I think I also realized at that moment that he was five times tougher than me, and to this day I count myself very lucky he didn’t turn the fight around and give me the stomping I deserved.

It looks like deep wisdom to me now, Rodney, you schooled me, let he who is without sin, kind of thing. You were a huge influence on my mind and my life – is it Brown, Rodney Brown? White guy, Mount Pleasant Elementary, around 1970? I was a fledgling bully for a second there, and my first victim was an experienced one, a goddam expert. Maybe I’m giving too much credit, but the last guy in the world who had any obligation to be modelling peace for anybody accepted my apology and that was the end of it, which, in hindsight was Mandela-esque. I don’t know how life’s been or if you’re still out there, but you sure did right by me, even if I’m romanticizing your agency in the matter. You probably had fighting back thoroughly beaten out of you, no doubt what made you so attractive as a victim, right?

You hear that? Me, thanking Rodney and the Academy for my pacifism?

Truth to tell, I lost track a little there, memories intruding; I was supposed to be complaining about my low-T, not bragging, but that’s it, isn’t it? I’m talking about the downsides of my own attitudes. I have a low testosterone attitude, and proud as I may be of it, society doesn’t reward that sort of thing – just abused terrified women like to encourage that sort of thing, for obvious, understandable sorts of reasons, that don’t help me in my situation at all. So here I am today, with a fuzzy, half-formed consciousness of the origin of my passivity, and I know it exists for someone else’s survival strategy and is almost certainly detrimental to my own, meaning my morality is the morality provided for me by abused and fearful women, it’s all based on the idea that men are beasts or something and all their desires should be denied, me and mine expressly included – what are my options?

I’ve said it before: I looked at something I oughtn’t to have. Having questioned punishing, and so force and dominance, all of that, I don’t really think I have the option of just changing my mind, I mean it’s not a change of mind, it’s a learning thing. I am not going to just start trying to dominate anyone (sorry – it’s coming up soon, I mean I can’t start exercising any traditional male power in my family now, having never done so before. I found myself with no place in my female household, and standing up and demanding one wasn’t going to get me one the same way just complaining and asking didn’t), bring the people around me around to my way of thinking, like some young man who simply believes in himself, simply believes he deserves to and should dominate anyone. Even if I need some control to mitigate my own stress, even so, my having some share of dominance may be a biological need for me, I have seen the downside of that sort of attitude in the world, and it is no longer available to me. It always comes back to Bluebeard for me, you’ll never get any killin’ done if you go around thinking all the time – this is a piece of social sort of advice that I simply cannot take. I assume Sapolsky has come to the same conclusion, he seems to be a genuine fellow, despite of, or because of his revelation that he and all his famous professor author peers are alpha types.

In practical terms, it means the MRAs and the howl at the moon sorts of men’s retreats are exactly the opposite of what I’m looking for, save your invitations to the brotherhood. More importantly in my personal life, because those guys are not going to be part of it, it means I didn’t and can’t sit my girls down and tell them how it is going to be, I cannot make anything happen, despite that it seems to mean that the right thing isn’t happening, despite that all our lives are destroyed because an adult has supported a child’s decision rather than making an adult one themselves. I know I’m talking about both of my kids’ parents, I know it was an immature sort of decision of mine to abstain from my male power, a shirking of the responsibility for that power . . . should I have been normal? Should I have dominated my girls, which is normal, to make sure something like this could never happen to me, that I would get voted off the island and my kids would somehow have been used to do it? You know what it means, right?

Maybe my kid would have been domesticated, maybe when her teen conflict came up, she’d have toed the line and submitted, stayed home and in school – and maybe not. How much of the choice I didn’t make is right and proper and works for our goals, and how many of those folks’ kids simply move out into poverty? In those terms, I can’t and couldn’t make a different decision either. I had given up the option to act like a man and put my foot down about anything at the start of the child-rearing experience. That wasn’t going to be a solution at this late juncture, in fact, the girls all seemed to think that’s what I was doing already, or that I was getting ready to, and so any manly thing I might attempt would only prove their case; I did raise my voice a few times and it was over, they feared things were going to get worse and they had me leave, “to get better and then come back.” They’ve made it clear that they feel my attempts to communicate with them as manipulative and aggressive, so for me to prove I’m not trying to hurt them, I am left only the option of never speaking to them again – and I am very committed to proving it to them, so there we are. I love you girls, and to prove it, I’m going to do what you say and take half our money and leave forever.

(To my mind, that is sort of the fatal, mountain to climb to forgive sort of a sin, that they cut off communication with me. It was clear to me immediately that both there was nothing to “get better and go back” to, I’d given away my spot and my voice was forbidden, and that “getting better” from this, being abandoned by the family during a breakdown, wasn’t the most likely outcome. I begged them on this basis, to deaf ears. I know, they were scared, and if I have to tell you that knowing it was their fear, my wife’s fear that was the matter helped me not a fucking bit, then welcome to the second level of the conversation. You may defer to her fears if you wish, they have nearly killed me, and the outcome is not yet assured.)

I’m not looking for sympathy and I’m not trying to recruit anyone to my side of my divorce fight, I’m only laying it out to demonstrate what happens to a man who won’t play the dominance game, a man who recuses himself of authority, a boy who doesn’t fight. OK, there is something under my skin. We’re invisible too, boys who don’t fight. Life sucks for us because we are like Pit Bulls, it’s not what we do, it’s what we can do – I recused myself from the rewards that a strong man receives, but recusing one’s self from the liabilities, that doesn’t seem to be in my power. My soon to be ex-wife never seems to have understood or believed me that that is what I am, despite that I am the only man she ever heard of who wouldn’t so much as “pat a kid on the bum,” as they say.

All men must be treated as armed and dangerous, we must all be muzzled, apparently, and a life of good behaviour doesn’t change that. I gave it up for nothing, a liberal principle, and my daughters are as fearful of men as they were evolved to be, as though I had beaten them spare. There is a whole lot more to it, mostly just more reasons why they couldn’t have felt otherwise and maybe more of me saying I couldn’t have thought otherwise, a lot of reasons why I need to find a new way forward. Men are indeed dangerous and I worry that by responding to my ouster with passivity and obedience, I am teaching my girls a lesson that will get them hurt the next time they attempt it with some more regular fellow. It was an experiment, my life. It was looking like a spectacular success until suddenly it was over.

I hope the results can help someone someday, because the cost of this experiment was the quality of life for all of us.

 

 

 

Jeff

September 15th., 2017

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2017 – “abusewithareason” – not an Improvement in Optics, but Truth Above All, Right?

abusewithanexcuse.com, 2017 – “Antisocialization Theory,” – a Guide, Part #2

  1. 2017 – “abusewithareason” – not an Improvement in Optics, but Truth Above All, Right?

 

 

Things started coming together in February of 2017. I mean, not for me personally, but for abusewithanexcuse.com, for my long search, the train of thought I’d been on consciously for twenty years and really struggling with all my life. This here is my personal favourite, probably of all time, and that thought comes with the idea that I’ll be surprised if anyone agrees with me about it, if it’s anyone else’s favourite. For me, this is the philosophical crux of the matter of child discipline, the pivot point for humankind generally. Long and short, I reject the biology-based idea of the Deep Roots of War Theory if it means it’s something we are, something outside of our control – but I’m all with it because it’s not what we are and only what we do. The Deep Roots of War is a behaviour, not a gene.

For me, there is deep beauty in this, our assessment of ourselves, if not maybe in our response to that assessment:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/human-nature-or-let-me-tell-you-what-we-think-of-us/

“Let Me Tell You” – LOL. I haven’t changed that much. Still. In March, seven more, that make this one a series, where I start to unravel the “Consequences Meme.” The links are in this first one. Two largish revelations in February, though, this one too, which I imagine to be dangerous and provocative:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/

One in the “personal” department from that time:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/22/youre-an-asocial-arent-you/

Here’s me responding to that fellow who put the barb in me at the start of my meltdown:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/06/15/critique-of-do-parents-really-matter/

 

 

I guess from there until now, it’s all new, it’s all what I think is some form of science, and I would have you, surprise, surprise, read it all! LOL. It is where I’m at right now, I look at it all as human society is warrior society, and for the moment at least, I’ve sort of lost interest in the details. I’ve sort of completed this train of thought, answered the questions I’ve had since the first time I saw my cousin getting the shit kicked out of him by his parents.

I have a half baked plan to write a book – would be my third now, hopefully the first good one – that sort of lays out how it operates, how the warrior society and our need for “security” drives all things human, and how most of what we think of as intelligence is simply aggression, but for now, having wrestled this problem to the ground in a mere fifty-seven years, I plan to take a break now, until the next thing comes along that gets under my skin.

 

Thanks for coming, Folks. I hope you found the grain of joy in it somewhere, I know it’s mostly one long accusation against us all, and I’m sorry for that. I think I’m a mutation, maybe. I hope I’m not the lethal sort so that the human organism has to select me out or anything, but it does sort of feel like that.

 

 

Jeff

September 11th., 2017

 

Whups, that was an ending, but this is probably Number Two for me, the second most eloquent argument I’ve made:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/07/03/biology-buries-the-lead/

Jeff

 2013 – 2015, abusewithanexcuse.com, “the parenting years,” – a Guide

            2013 – 2015, abusewithanexcuse.com, “the parenting years,” I guess

 

I’ve stepped through my blog chronologically and tried to organize the links into categories . . .

Favourites – mine, I mean:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/01/17/our-end-of-the-deal/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/06/09/state-funded-abuse-punishments-and-rewards-in-prison/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/30/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-6/ – a series I love

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/12/20/the-cruel-irony-of-deterrents/ – another series I still love

Here’s one for the vets, perhaps, it’s what Veterans’ (or Remembrance day here in Canada) day looks like when you start to see “legitimate” violence and criminal violence as all the same – sorry, when I started to see things this way –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/11/a-conflicted-society-when-its-your-job-to-die/

and that’s a segue to war from the same sort of long view –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/06/the-islamic-state-just-doesnt-get-it/

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/08/08/what-do-dolls-teach/ – an example of me posing questions three years ago that I now feel I can answer

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/09/01/punishment-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy-and-the-roots-of-institutionalized-racism/ – I think this is the sort of stuff Cortland enjoyed, police and public policy stuff, very much in line with the above link (and its linked links) . . . here’s more on that –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/11/shows-of-strength-and-presenting-a-united-front/

Man, I got a bunch on this, all inspired by American cops shooting unarmed black men and women. They’re all my favourites, I can’t stop. More:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/06/trading-up-moral-equivalence-bigger-crimes-for-smaller-ones/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/05/23/rebuilding-trust-a-rant-if-youre-going-to-lie-lie-big/  – really, one very close to my heart still.

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/03/ – I liked this whole month, a little of everything in there, some parenting stuff.

Hmm . . . I like everything in January and February of 2015 . . . and most of the stuff from April through November of 2015 – and that was when I started my Otezla prescription and lost my mind. My blog fades out with my groping with Nature VS Nurture stuff, with me beginning to read biology types like Pinker and Rich Harris, having been directed there by some biology types online. One of these folks posted an article, basically stating that it is biology’s and therefore science’s position that “Parenting Might Not Matter.” This challenge hooked me badly, and I felt I must answer or perish, I mean, get a new hobby – basically the same thing, in my mind. I was and am very invested that parenting matters. I found the answer, I think.

But I had to dive into that biology to do it. I think making that switch, from social science to biology breaks your brain and you pretty much rebuild from scratch. Ask Robert Trivers, the guy’s had several world-changing theories and the first famously came with a breakdown – I don’t know about the rest. I feel bad for making the jump, like I’ve crossed the floor of the senate or something, but truth at all cost, I guess. I kid myself I’m Bob Dylan, not Trivers, that I’m plugging in and saying goodbye to the ladies of psychology and folk music and moving on to the rock’n’roll world of hard science, LOL.

I’m no joiner, though. From what I’ve seen, the bio folks are as blind to the problems I see as anyone else. I see a need for a new discipline, one that bridges and connects the two, as you’d think EP might. Hard science on the microscope side doesn’t translate to social understanding or policy any better than blank slate social science ever did. Mostly, at least online what I see from the biologists are the deep roots of war and to be frank, the bloody Alt-Right. “Genetic differences,” being the connective tissue, apparently. I plan to go to war against all of them, soft and hard science alike. Of course, just like Nature VS Nurture, the truth is it’s both. In December 2015 and again in April, 2016, there’s one little blog each, of me trying to think my way around these biologists, starting to find my position against this seemingly new attack on Nurture from the Nature side of the old dialogue. The April one remains a fave:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2016/04/05/the-new-naturists/

LOL – “My Position.” Shout out to HST (and hubris).

Basically, nothing until where I’m going to start calling it the New Thing, for me, maybe abusewithareason.com or something, where I feel I’ve answered my own questions and that challenge from the internet as well. That will start after the “Religion” section, a few pages down.

 

 

 

 

            Addiction-adjacent:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/28/selling-harm/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/10/from-an-offline-conversation-part-2-regarding-addiction/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/23/punishment-and-teaching/ – I’m afraid I don’t have much on addiction, so I’m going to stretch this section. This is adjacent, it’s about rebellion.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/19/whats-up-with-the-lethal-injection-drug-shortage/ – again, a stretch. More like Capital Punishment.

 

 

Parenting:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/26/punishment-of-children-as-domestic-abuse/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/01/27/most-parenting-books/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/06/the-punishment-trap-1-rules/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/01/27/antiparenting/

I’d forgotten these two, and I love them, but the “favourites” section is getting too big. It’s sick, how I seem to love my own voice.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/10/dont-we-think-our-parents-did-their-best/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/05/our-parents-did-their-best-didnt-they/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2016/01/16/moms-such-a-martyr-parental-sacrifice-and-the-six-year-challenge/

 

 

 

            Philosophy:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/12/27/abuse-punishment-and-intentions/ – an example of what I was writing in 2013/2014, technical sounding stuff, I was trying to pick things apart from my chair, felt I was following “reason,” making some sort of a case . . . it doesn’t sound wrong to me as such, but it’s very dry, and it probably falls into the category of just making stuff up, Freud style. I do have a bit of an 18th., century tone sometimes, which, some folks still like to read that stuff, I guess.

 

 

 

Personal:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/10/03/more-than-not-punishing/ – I’ve got a bunch of this bragging sort of stuff in the blog, but I won’t be adding to it, we’ve all had a massive falling out, starting with a medication-fuelled breakdown on my part. I ain’t nearly as confident anymore as I was when I was writing that stuff, or happy either. Here’s my biography, written then, while I was still bragging:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/24/a-conflicted-society-the-dreamer-part-1/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/25/a-conflicted-society-the-dreamer-part-2/

I do have big plans to update my bio with all the embarrassing details, if I ever get to the end of this present, very bad phase of my life. I still insist it must be interesting, I mean, scientifically, sort of.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/04/21/dont-turn-your-back-on-your-childhood-self/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/05/15/my-kids-eminems-mom-and-who-to-trust-2/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/05/01/shes-leaving-home-not-entirely-unrelated-title/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/02/stressed-out-all-my-life/

 

 

            Miscellaneous:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/28/good-violence-bad-violence/  – the first thing I ever wrote on the subject, probably twenty years ago, and it shows. “Hear me, People!,” LOL

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/07/first-do-no-harm/ – me trying to get poetic about it

 

 

 

 

            Religion:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/16/christianity-the-revolution-that-never-happened/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/16/he-who-is-without-sin-may-punish/

Knowledge of Good and Evil

            A Question for Bible Scholars

            and

            An Answer for Everyone

 

Someone who knows the ancient Hebrew, the ancient Greek, someone help me. Is this a possible matter of interpretation or translation? I refer you to the very second Book, Genesis Two, and

“. . . the tree of knowledge of good and evil . . .” and “. . . the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

My train of thought has brought me to a mindset where a very small tweak to that bit of scripture might have tremendous explanatory power. What if – and yes, only a “just so” story without some support from ancient language experts – but what if the original idea was more like “. . . the technology of good and evil . . .” – like the knowledge of how to work with good and evil?

I’ve said it elsewhere recently, I know.

I also said this was the original sin, gaining this knowledge – or perhaps rather, developing this technology – and if it’s a technology, is it a sin to turn evil to good? It makes more sense to me that our first sin was the other technology, that we learned to turn good to evil, to turn sweet little babies into soldiers, creating warrior sorts of human groups like the ones who wrote those early Hebrew scriptures. Hmmm. Perfect segue, rare for me.

The technology in question is child abuse, and the data is in: rough treatment in childhood makes for rough adults. This is available knowledge today, out there, poised for the hundredth monkey to pick it up, and all before I made a penny off it of course, but here it is again, for free: childhood is rough in the warrior societies, that is an equation: rough childhood = warrior society. “Warrior society,” though, just what is that, really?

Google the term, you’ll see references to American aboriginal tribes, maybe the Samurai culture, maybe you’ll wind up in Klingon space.

What you won’t perhaps see is any reference to white people, to our own WEIRD selves. Apparently, the peaceful societies of England, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Genoa, Venice, etc., mowed down every “warrior culture” on the planet without being warriors themselves. Amazing, isn’t it? Those warriors didn’t know how to fight! It’s a good thing our Christian “religious society” came along to teach them, huh? I guess if I can scream it with sarcasm, I can also just say it.

“Warrior society” is a racist term.

It’s one of those things “they” (people outside of our group or in another group) have and “we” (people in our own social group) don’t. “They” are a warrior society, “we” just desire security. They are a warrior society – one dimensional, all they do if fight – while we “stand to defend” all that is right and proper, all that other stuff that is what we like to say we’re really all about.

If the world has “warrior societies,” then we all are, or those of us who are not are feeding the crops of those who are, game theory one-oh-one, right? They all are, they all must be. Otherwise what’s the narrative – “we used to have all these warrior societies, but we killed them all and now we’re all peaceful?” If you eat predators, you’re a super-predator; if you kill warriors, you are a super-warrior.

You got a border, you got an army? Then “you’re a gangster now, and there are no late starters” – Carlito’s Way. Particularly if you win the wars, you are a warrior society, again – this is real life, not some evolutionary amateur hour. I’m sorry – “you,” I said? I’m sorry, it’s “we, we, us – white people, Europeans.” We are a warrior society, in fact, human societies are warrior societies. And this is why we know in our bones that children must “be taught right from wrong” – because of that lowlife warrior society next door, that we have to keep kicking their asses forever, because the fools never learn. Damnit. I wish I could say “irony” without ruining it, but, well . . . there it is. (“Ian Malcolm,” Jurassic Park.)

It’s not about smarts so much either, aggression is not intelligence and violence is not intelligence. It’s not about smarts, because if you can slaughter an entire continent of warrior societies and still tell yourself you’re a peacemaker, or an “information society,” or some crap, then you’re a great bunch of warriors, but let’s face it.

You’re not too fucking bright.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2017

The Civilizing Meme

I need to apologize right now. This is not likely to stand on its own, and I am sure to publish it before I complete the thought, that seems to be how I work these days. This is for those who are familiar with me, for people who have been following me on this train of thought already. For the rest, I promise to create a longer version eventually, one that places this in some context. I’ll set the scene in a form of shorthand here, but the setup needs to be longer than a blog, so that’s what I’m sorry for, the format, that it means to get me, you’ve got to read more than one, that I’m stuck trying to force you to read regularly. You have my empathy; I don’t love being subject to that sort of marketing bullshit either.

Having said that, I’ve had another tiny insight regarding what I’m terming the “consequences meme,” the story we tell ourselves about why we owe our children the consequences of their mistakes and transgressions. My proposition has been that the consequences (punishments, aversives – often beatings) create our antisocialization, not any “positive” socialization, that our consequences make us crazy and violent, the “deep roots of war” creature, as opposed to the idea that the consequences civilize us by a form of aversion therapy. Sorry again: that was the background section. Pinker’s right, once you know something, it’s nearly impossible to understand what it would take to learn it from scratch. It’s in my blog, though, in long form, me figuring it out.

Today’s idea is just the other side of one I’ve been going on about. I’ve said many times that evidence for the civilizing effects of our consequences is lacking while evidence for the effects of abuse are myriad – but that was always a one generation conversation. It has occurred to me that second generation evidence is also lacking and that is suggestive of no epigenetic response to match with this civilizing idea.

I’ve said so often I’m starting to lose trust in it, is the idea of the unevolved beast within, that evolution bears Christian original sin out, the idea that we are animals and need to be civilized, hands on, one at a time – this shows up as support for the consequences meme. To be clear, I do not find these ideas to be causative of our child-rearing behaviours, I find them to be effects also, and the common cause of them all to be our need, or our perceived need to raise our children with a bad attitude, as soldiers for our group, always ready to offend or defend.

Now, during all those years that we were laughing at Lamarck, this appeared to skewer him, that we have beaten our children for millennia and still, they never started showing up pre-civilized. Clearly, nothing we did cradle to grave, other than choosing our mates, changed the genome in that scenario. (This idea has been slated for decommissioning, but these things take time.) Of course,  Lamarck is getting his comeuppance now, turns out he was right – not regarding everything, I mean every trait, but he was right about some stuff, so he was right, at least in terms of a few generations. I don’t think he declared it worked with everything, did he? The language has changed, of course, and today’s answers aren’t necessarily matched to yesterday’s questions. I also don’t suppose Lamarck ever said beating children civilized them, probably not explicitly anyhow, but that seems to be what people think, so that’s the environment he was wrong in.

Of course, epigenetic effects, environmental control of gene expressions, these are the environment he’s correct in, but there’s another thing: he couldn’t ever have been right in an environment where beatings civilize their recipients, because we have been testing that for a long time, maybe for as long as we’ve been human by most definitions. That isn’t really working out. Oh, I know, Angels of our Better Natures and all, we have made some improvements – but it probably wasn’t hundreds of generations of beatings that did it, considering what a single generation of beatings seems to do. This is my present proposition:

That if beatings civilized us, that would be an epigenetic effect, and we would expect some long-term evidence like the second-generation effects of things like the Dutch Hunger Winter babies and their offspring, some lingering “civilization” across a generation or three that without intervention would fade out to some primal brutality, but that wouldn’t require an initiation with every child in every generation, forever. Of course, that is the socialization researchers’ long, unproductive search, isn’t it? All the evidence is for the other side, abuse, rough treatment, and the rather dependable results those things bring. As to full blown Lamarckian evolution, the creation of permanent heritable traits, for that, I’ll defer to better minds. Have we gotten from epigenetics to permanence yet? Not that I’ve heard so far. So maybe the discipline we bring to our kids isn’t the full initiation. It’s probably more like maintenance, keeps us forever in the second generation, epigenetically biased for the consequences. (Forever in the second generation. See https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/04/28/its-a-childs-world/ )

Anecdotally, I’ve observed a sort of pendulum effect in parenting, some children of cruel parents swing to using a very light hand and some of us who were left on our own to a degree may wish to exercise more control as a response, with their own children, adding up to a possible generational see-saw along a spectrum of strictness or control, perhaps of violence. It may be possible to view first-generation gentle parents as having indeed been civilized by their rough parents if we can view the second or multi-generational rough or more controlling parents as having been antisocialized by their rough parents, and then the question is, what are the proportions? How many respond with tradition and how many rebel? This may tell us which is the more powerful operant, the civilizing one or the antisocializing force of the consequences. For a clue, something upwards of eighty-seven percent of American parents self-report the use of corporal punishment, specifically, spanking. Self-report.

The second proposition, already stated, is that there will then be some multi-generational effects to see from the true effect, that beatings enhance violence rather than attenuate it. I believe these Dutch Hunger Winter baby second and beyond generation sort of effects have indeed been documented with abuse. If there are epigenetic changes being made along these lines, and there are, then this also is an environment where Lamarck is correct, and the news isn’t only good for him. The man’s laughable at the time optimism, his pie in the sky suggestion, that we are self-actualized creatures, capable of directing our own evolution in ways, this is romantic crap when all children require to be beaten civilized, clearly. But in the real world?

Self-actualized is not just what we can be, but what we perhaps have always been. I mean, we could be better, but the good news is we really could; it’s in our power. In the real world where fathers beat their sons to toughen them up and the sons volunteer for the army, the actual world where abuse is causatively correlated with violent crime in the most robust way – this is proof that our natures are in our own power to change. In that world he’s right, intergenerationally, if not permanently.

Romantic optimism and all!

I know, I’m surprised too. I never dreamed I could talk myself into believing anything so potentially positive, but, well . . . there it is.

(I bring scientists and you bring a rock star. – “John Hammond,” Jurassic Park.)

 

 

 

Jeff

July 25th., 2017

Rational Man VS the Warrior Society

I bought in completely, swallowed the whole story of Man’s rational world, of the long progress of mankind, maybe even with the idea that we were leaving our animal selves behind us.

 

Circumstances being what they were and what they are, I didn’t really see through it until just these last few years, in my mid-fifties, and the process by which I did cost me wife and daughters, and my house – and just to make it a clean sweep I’m throwing my job on the fire too – so, with nothing left to lose, I’m doubling down. This rationality thing isn’t really catching on, but that is the world I require to be happy, so I am going to spend the remaining days of my throwaway life trying to create it. Maybe if I get a glimpse, I can have a little happiness – there’s plenty a slip ‘twixt a cup and a lip, right? I may have been killed, but I ain’t dead yet.

 

It’s not a social pursuit, and it’s not good for you, but you know, I’m already done for. With my dying dream, I’m going to try to market my asocial condition, use this disinterested perspective to describe humanity from a more omniscient place. Here’s the not so cheerful upshot: not that I think we are anything specific at any given moment, but because that’s the way we talk: we are that war machine, the ape that rules the world by violence. Insofar as we aspire to inhabit the rational, civilized world we like to talk about, human societies are warrior societies, and that is by far the best way to understand our behaviour (a sure to be controversial example – https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true ).

 

A shorter version of the same idea came to me on Twitter this morning. I spend a lot of time with Christian original sin. I even bought and read the book of the same name, by one Alan Jacobs. I don’t think the canonized version is why, but it seems like a good way to refer to what maybe in another context is our nurture assumption: some reason why we all think we owe our kids the consequences, the discipline. What I hadn’t considered until today’s lesson was which exact sin was supposed be the one we’re all born with, and sure enough, it’s sex, the sex that spawned us: we are all sinners because we are all conceived in sin – conception is a sin, sex is a sin. * This is the attitude professed to me, I think, by an American Christian, so a citizen of a globe-spanning military empire: sex is the number one sin, the first. This is how a warrior-citizen feels, in a world of war and violence. Makes sense, right? I mean, sure, it’s a world of sex and breeding too – but if sex is your number one sin, your society is not a sex cult, is it?

 

In the very same way, Freud also erred hugely, by the Dark Matter ratio of one in ten, by his focus on sexual matters, by imagining the very basis of our biological life to be the problem and declaring our warrior life to be an extension of it. His vision mirrors genetics, relationship and conflict theory, sure, but it’s all within the visible ten percent. He knew about the Dark Matter, but the meme still worked on him, the behaviour’s protection remained in place: he too thought the sex was the Dark stuff. He too spoke about our nasty natures and didn’t see how the true human nastiness is in that our nature is not nasty enough for our needs and we have found a way to change it. Freud had a scientific mind to some degree, and so, as biology does today, viewed humanity as passive, as subject to drives and circumstances and not so much as a self-actualized creature. It’s the scientific version of the idea that we are all born sinners, the legacy of the brute we were, the unconscious beast within, but still with the warrior society bias: the ‘beast’ within us wants to destroy the world with rampant and ofttimes incestuous sex! It’s an afterthought that sometimes a club is just a bludgeon.

 

In a very real and military way, Ignorance really is Strength, and Yellowbeard was right, you really “can’t get any killin’ done if you go around thinking all the time.” This is another way to state game theory, perhaps, but the reasons we are the war ape, this ‘deep roots of war’ creature, the things we do as such, these are things we all do, things humans do. We do not live in the state of war so much of the time because of the way some humans are or the way some people behave. War is the logical outcome of what most, if not all humans are, of what most, if not all people do. I’m not happy about it, I’m not trying to sell us the “fact” of the ‘deep roots of war’ to minimize it and promote war, as I so often assume of other authors myself when I read the phrase: I’m exposing that version of us as something it is in our power to change, mostly because we have created it ourselves in the first place. The point there was that it’s things we all do, in fact most of what we all do. For illustration, try doing things that might hurt the war effort, see what happens. Get on Facebook, tell the world that you refuse to beat your children and watch your comments. Suggest we stop giving terrorists things to avenge and watch the comments. ** Sorry to tell you.

 

If the warrior society notices you pulling in the wrong direction, you are in some kind of trouble, be it “only social” or literally anything else. This includes not bringing the discipline to your kids, it includes fighting bigotry and it includes eschewing religion. Some largish portion of your society is not going to like it, and upon analysis, it will come back to security, to the warrior society. This is utterly pervasive, we all need to understand this, or we will always be doing it, always subject to the whims of warlords and never understanding why the bad guys always win.

 

OK, that sounded like an introduction to my usual rap, the stock ending of one of my usual beginnings, but that’s not it. This beginning is just getting started.

 

I am alone, which as every scientist, doctor and Facebook user will tell you isn’t good for you. I’m at risk. I’ve got a few good friends and two sisters, but they’re all in other places, other towns. Basically, I don’t fit in. I had a family, a wife and two daughters and I wanted to raise them differently, so I sort of checked out of the “normal” world of parents and my family were sort of my only friends . . . I had all my social eggs in one basket, guess what happened – wait, beginnings. The first thing that happened, I guess, was that I found myself in a role I could no longer play: quiet, compliant, never complaining, never angry husband and father. Next, I had a drug reaction, a manic and then depressive breakdown from a new biologic medication I tried for my psoriasis. Sad and compromising to say, but I have seen something about humanity, something I wasn’t maybe supposed to see, I’ve seen the man behind the curtain and I can’t ever be the same.

 

It’s part and parcel of my increased asociality: “social” things for me have gone from being some combination of pleasant, uncomfortable and largely irrelevant to being the problem in the world. We need social connections – I need social connections – but I now see us as a warrior society that will not see itself and I am faced with a choice, my social connections or my morals. I don’t know how to un-see it, or more to the point, I have no path to wanting to un-see it. I can’t help but dramatize my struggle: find some social connections, strengthen the ones I still have, try to join the social world that gives what comfort it can to folks in the in-group – or follow my truth. Again, I’ve already lost pretty much everything to my truth, so I’m going with that – with, of course, the hope that someone out there will still want some connection with me as I follow my own path. Having said that, my own path is at very real odds with the interests of the in-group: I don’t expect to find my social connections among social people, in fact those are hurting me more than helping me these days. I want to connect with asocials like myself.

 

“Asocial” is not only a Nazi term, but I’m afraid I hear that in it myself. I think I first saw it in “Fatherland,” the novel by Robert Harris, spoken by a Nazi indoctrinated character, so that is one of my main associations with the word – but we can’t start deleting words and their concepts just because some swine used it to bad ends, can we? The Nazi connection I will leverage here also: being an “asocial” was a crime in that novel, and now I think that Nazism is hugely “social:” we’re all pulling in the same direction, right? Nazism is fascism and no kind of “socialism” in the cooperative sense, meaning conformity may be an aspect of the goal, but in Nazism it’s forced upon the people, in a top-down authoritarian way, with the inequality built in, integral to authority. Socialism, in it’s dream form, is a community of asocials, all working together from a more self-motivated stance. Perhaps all political ideologies’ labels are necessarily backwards. More likely it’s me that has flipped: it just all looks backwards to me now. But “social” and “smart” appear to be opposites.

 

When we’re fighting City Hall, we all like to say that “a committee is a creature with six or more legs and no brain,” but everything is contextual: four extra legs makes brains disappear, but thousands or millions of extra legs doesn’t? I mean, three people have no brain but the entire society is supposed to be smart?

 

What about this? What about Rich Harris’ children’s group? Are we smarter as a society than a fifth grader?

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/04/28/its-a-childs-world/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true&calypso_token=fd42246c-6bc8-41bc-bdce-58b483f0f9f0

 

Sorry, friends and family, you have plenty of social support, I have nothing for you on that personal level, I don’t agree with you about anything . . . I mean if I manage to rise above our differences and love you despite our differences, despite living on opposite sides of the curtain, or you do and find a way to love me, that is still only in the realm of rational things and the social benefits aren’t forthcoming anyways. I’m still sorry, because the good folks are, but I’ve gotten a do-over and I work for humanity now; our social priorities, our biological needs are the problem, not the answer. Follow me to this empty, unsatisfying world of rational things or have a nice life. On a very personal level, I feel this is exactly where my family and I have parted, they’re social. I mean, my girls are young adults, one still technically a teen – talk about pressure, of course they have to try to conform. I’m ready to admit that trying to make a huge change with them wasn’t fair to them, but I didn’t have as much choice as you might imagine. Once I began to look at punishing, once I started to see it as optional, I couldn’t un-see it, so there was no passive choice for me, it was “beat them or don’t” for me, I’d lost the ability to be unconscious about it. I don’t think of all the people out there who have wound up “spanking” their kids, anybody made a conscious decision to “beat” them, the choice is never presented nakedly like that, but for reasons of my mutation or something, it was for me. I have regrets, but it doesn’t mean I could make the opposite choice if I had it to do again.

 

How many readers, I wonder, saw the messiah complex before the “follow me” bit? No matter – that really is it, I’m not trying to hide it. When I can manage to turn this antisocialization theory business into a readable book, then the idea is to create a new paradigm that takes over the world, that’s a messianic dream. And the religious parallels don’t end there, either, because ‘a new paradigm’ isn’t exactly right, although it’s something like equal and opposite. I want to reveal a current paradigm – that’s revelation, in religious terms or discovery in scientific ones, I suppose –  but I’m not sure what the replacement will be. The existing paradigm to which I refer is a bad habit: if we try to stop, and stop a little, every time we don’t engage in it, that’s good for us. What we will do with the time we are accustomed to spending at it, I don’t know, but we can make healthier choices.

 

Carrying on with the Dark Matter analogy, if we measure social modes – prosocial, antisocial – against society, then we can clarify many confusing ‘social issues’ by considering human ‘society’ as ninety percent ‘warrior society.’ With this find/replace function, we can say that it is prosocial to support the troops (pro-warrior-social to socially support our society’s warriors) or say that it is antisocial to be an active member of a small minority that protests the war the troops are engaged in (anti-warrior-social, denying support to our society’s warriors). It seems that the size of our moral inclusion circles can be viewed as our definition of ‘society’ when we ponder moral issues. If ‘society’ means our nation, our culture, then anti-war is antisocial, against everyone in ‘society.’ If ‘society’ means something closer to humankind, then it is the warriors who are positioned against it, the warriors and their supporters who are antisocial – and my own moral circle has certainly grown beyond my borders, because ‘supporting the troops’ is clearly and obviously antisocial to me, war is antisocial, that is a no-brainer, self evident, and there is surely some Latin way to say it as well, that the conclusion is included in the premise or some crap, when the association is in the definition of the word.

 

It’s not open for discussion, though. Warrior society, I mean.

 

I want it to be, and this is step one, certainly not the first time or one of the first thousand times, but it’s not a debatable topic, not yet. It’s what I am calling in my ignorance, believing I must coin the term myself, a protected behaviour. We don’t know what we’re doing, we don’t know how it works, so we’re in no danger of stopping it. I’ve been writing my evolution on this topic (I can’t think unless I’m talking) and I’ve coined another one, the consequences ‘mimic meme’ to describe the two-sided aspect of our child-rearing behaviour, the discipline.

 

Carrying on further with this Dark Matter analogy, the consequences meme being the visible ten percent of the social practice of child-rearing, has us regrettably employing punishments to teach our children how to treat people right, how to be a normal member of the society. This is our conscious effort at understanding this behaviour, and all the parenting discussions I’ve ever been involved in happen in this arena. The Dark Matter part, the ninety percent of this behaviour that is protected – this is where we do not so regrettably abuse our children to ensure that they treat those other people “right.”  I’ve spent pages on the mimic meme elsewhere, suffice it to say here that we all too often wind up “spanking” to conclude what started as a “moral” lesson, and we hope that our intended lesson is what the child remembers, and we hope that the unintended violence will be forgotten. This is the power of the meme, of the protection in place, that we hope this against all the evidence.

 

It looks like it works; the child is ‘socialized,’ warrior-socialized. If we can be at war perpetually and still tell ourselves we are a peaceful society, well then if our children can too, then we have socialized them as ourselves, just as we hoped – except, mimic meme, protected behaviour, we forgot what it was we hoped for. What we hope for, warrior society, is that we be strong and fierce and that our enemies fear us. What I’m getting at is, that is exactly the sort of man that starts a war if he’s powerful or winds up in prison or at least in anger management counselling if he’s not. We spend ninety percent of our time and energy creating soldiers and jailing the ones that we don’t send into an official war.

 

This is a chestnut, but it’s one of those problems we will never solve if we can’t even see it. We need to be strong, I mean unless every society on Earth makes a move towards pacifism all at once, but if we’re ever going to solve things for the folks at home, the ones not on the battlefield, we need to understand that we have set them up for their “antisocial” diagnosis.

 

Hey – you know the way we’re stuck in our aboriginal mindset, smallish troops, 100, 160 members tops and the rest are the out-group and how that affects us today in bigger ways, apparently driving us to war? Well, it’s never occurred to me before to wonder whether the actual wars we drive ourselves to never “work out” for the same reason, that the wars themselves are maladapted behaviours that only ever worked out in our aboriginal situation. Like we go to war thinking, “yeah, we’ll kill those guys, and live on their land, happily ever after,” or “we’ll kill those guys and there won’t be that threat on our border anymore,” and maybe that was actually a possible result back in that day. Maybe genocide was a doable thing at that smaller scale and today we foolishly go to war thinking we’ve got to kill a village and we’re done! One thing to say we have that tendency, and one more to suggest somebody knows it and sells their wars that way, as simple, straightforward, and doable, of but of course that’s the worry. Someone with a better grasp of human nature than we ourselves have is sure to be a director of, rather than only a player in this little production called human life.

 

Personally, I’m tired of listening to people fumbling about, trying to understand why the violence, to a few good-hearted folks trying to fix it, paddling against the current of everyone else putting their weight into the warrior society. Personally, I would peel the protection off this thing, we own it after all, I would have us all understand the warrior social nature of the human being and how it works and let’s all decide, is this really where we want to be, playing out this ‘sins of the father’ crap for the rest of eternity. I want to know that the United Nation Rights of the Child Committee understands all of this, they should probably be the organization that might oversee that we all learn this about ourselves. The point there being – the generals already know it, it’s the good folks that don’t. We’re grownups – I mean, not as a group, but one at a time we are – and we can handle this knowledge, this knowledge, which, by the way, is probably the knowledge, the knowledge of good and evil that got us tossed out of the garden in the first place. That’s my pet version, it’s not just ‘the knowledge of,’ it means ‘the technology of’ good and evil, meaning, how to make the stuff, or how to make one of them from the other, an alchemical recipe. Here’s the kicker, though. It’s not the original sin because it’s knowing how to convert evil to good, how is that a sin? Isn’t that religion’s mission statement, double literally?

 

No, it’s this. It’s how to convert a live and let live sort of ape into the ‘deep roots of war’ ape that we at least think we need to be.

 

Wow, full circle, solved the entire mystery. It’s a grand unifying theory, and not only does it reconcile social and biological science, but even Genesis! And we were alive when this singularity came together, you and I, this Canada Day weekend, year of our Lord, two thousand and seventeen! Hmmm . . .

. . . maybe a little grandiose, maybe a little manic. I’d better medicate, I mean celebrate.

 

 

Jeff

July 1st., 2017

Happy Thank God, We’re Not Quite America Day.

 

abusewithanexcuse.com

 

* There is a kernel of generic, or biological truth in this, perhaps where the flavour of universal truth comes from. To live is to eat, and we can’t eat inorganic things, life lives by consuming life, mostly, and so to live is to harm, our selfish genes and bellies grinding on, preferring our own lives continue than others’ lives, whom we would advise to keep their gloves up and protect themselves at all times. This is the biological core of original sin, the self-evident part; the rest is a value judgment – not a small thing either though, and an important clue.

 

** I’m referring to actual comments from human beings who may or may not know they are supporting the warrior society’s values, although the disingenuous comments from the trolling section are probably an even more rabid and bloodthirsty version of the same. I think it’s safe to say, the current trolling attacks on America aren’t aiming for peace and understanding.

Critique of “Do Parents Really Matter”

Here’s Brian’s article.

https://life.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/take-two-babies/

 

And here’s my response, Q & A style:

 

Do parents really matter?

Everything we thought we knew about how personality is formed is wrong

CULTURE

Brian Boutwell

14 Jun 2017

Jeff in blue, in italics.

Here’s an experiment. I wanted to read this article through, and maybe critique it if it really was something in my crosshairs, but I had that first answer below immediately, so then it occurred that that was the way to tackle it, point by point, logical step by step, in real time, during my first read, see where Brian takes me.

Brian in black, in Georgia.

Parenting does not have a large impact on how children turn out.

I’m sorry, I’m gonna stop you right there. How is that possibly true when some parents have killed their children, beaten them to death? Is “bad stuff” exempt from your science? May I guess? The dead ones are deemed not to have turned out at all and therefore don’t meet study criteria?

An incendiary claim, to be sure, but if you can bear with me until the close of this article I think I might be able to persuade you — or at the very least chip away at your certainty about parental influence.

 . . . this I imagine, for the right and lofty goal of convincing parents that their abuse doesn’t work anyway, that they can give it up? That is a takeaway worth trying to create. Kudos.

First, what if later today the phone were to ring and the voice at the other end informed you that you have an identical twin. You would have lived your entire life up to that point not realising that you had a clone. The bearer of this news says arrangements have been made to reunite you with your long-lost sibling. In something of a daze, you assent, realising as you hang up that you’ve just agreed to meet a perfect stranger.

 

There was a time when separating identical twins at birth, while infrequent, did happen thanks to the harsh nature of adoption systems. One of the people who helped reunite many of them was the great psychologist Thomas Bouchard. I first read about Professor Bouchard’s work, wonderfully described by the psychologist Nancy Segal, when I was a graduate student. I still think about it often. What would it be like to live a large chunk of my life not knowing that I had a twin, and then meet him as an adult? Would our conversations ever go beyond polite small talk about the weather, sport or current events?

 

I’m sure similar thoughts went through the minds of the people in Bouchard’s study, and yet person after person realised — happily, I suspect — that they had a lot in common with the image of themselves sitting across the table. Their characters were often remarkably in step, as were their intellects, their behaviours, even their hobbies and eccentricities. The similarities often ran deep, cutting to the bone of their beliefs and their morality.

 

Our intuition sometimes seems to testify against the work of Bouchard and his team.

There’s a world of dialogue available here: are we sure that voice is our intuition? Have brain scans shown the intuition lobe to light up when people fixate on the power of nurture? (I have a new idea about where that voice comes from, please ask.) And ‘against the work?’ You mean against the conclusions they’re hearing from the work, right?

The emphasis on nurture dictates that identical twins, reared apart and reunited later in life, should not be all that similar.

I’ve heard it that way many times, but “the emphasis” doesn’t require that we think nurture has the lion’s share of the power – only that we know that it’s the only power we have for influence, however small it is. IRL, once you have your children, the genetics of the matter have been settled, and nurture is all we have left. So, sure, we exaggerate our influence, but the “importance” of our ability to nurture is irrelevant. If we think we have a single percent of influence, we are obliged to attempt it. With that reality check, you sound a little like you’re suggesting we abdicate all responsibility for teaching our children: we already know how little power we have, we are using all our energy to leverage any small chance we have to influence – and you’re here telling us, no, don’t bother doing what we can, it’s not enough anyway . . . again, that’s what it can sound like if it’s not this: you can’t influence them, so stop beating them.

Because if I am beating my children, and you tell me what I do doesn’t matter, then I want to agree, don’t I? And guess what else? Ninety-five percent of Americans are. Corporal punishment hasn’t dried up and blown away, so one step more brutal: are you telling parents who “spank” that what they do doesn’t matter? This is your mission in life? I tell you, if you do not clarify this, you are tacitly supporting the existing system, corporal punishment. This is why I’ve felt obliged to fight you.

 

And yet they are. Contrastingly, adopted children who share no distinguishing DNA with one another but are raised together should be quite similar.

It bears repeating, if yours did, I guess: parents don’t think nurture is where the most power is, they only know that it’s the only little power they have. If the families of these separated twins raised the twins to be normal, reasonably happy people, they wouldn’t be hurt to know they turned out identical, they, like all parents would just be happy their kids didn’t wind up in prison or mental institutions.

 

Yet they are not, and this poses some problems for traditional ideas about how parents shape children.

Mostly for the authors of parenting books, I imagine.

It’s not just Bouchard’s work that suggests parents have less influence than we think. Decades of research into behavioural genetics — twin studies, family studies and the adoption and identical-twin stories I have already mentioned — all point in the same direction. The shared environment, the experiences that create similarities between siblings raised together — the part of the environment that most often captures parenting influences — are all secondary when it comes to personality, behaviour or intelligence. What’s more, my own work as a criminologist, and that of my colleagues, has revealed the same pattern of findings when applied to violence, antisocial behaviour and crime.

OK, up to this point I’ve kept my answers in the old world, within your conversation, to some degree, but to answer this, we may have to leave your world and enter mine. In my world, nurture has more power, but in my world, parenting is not a purely positive influence: beatings have power. Abuse is where the power of “nurturing” is, and where the evidence is that parenting damned well does matter. Unfortunately, as per your main point, parents all seem to think they have this power and the obligation to use it, so there is no control group for parental abuse. Who wasn’t punished, who wasn’t spanked, whose parents didn’t believe this?

A note regarding corporal punishment: it’s a dodge. If a child misbehaves and we decide to spank him, that’s corporal punishment, the pain is the penalty. If, however, a child misbehaves and we decide he must do the dishes for his error, and he refuses, and an argument ensues and a fight results to impose the dishes penalty, and the child gets hit (not for the original offense, but for this new insubordination, I guess), then that is technically not “corporal punishment” (at least of the first offense). I respectfully suggest to all concerned that the child’s biology doesn’t appreciate the difference.

The upshot here, is of course, is abuse not a part of “ . . . the shared environment, the experiences that create similarities between siblings raised together — the part of the environment that most often captures parenting influences”?

It is my contention that it is indeed abuse that proves the power of “nurturing,” and that this is the reason for our “nurture assumption,” because when we beat a child, especially regularly, we see changes. Again, for a perfectly normal, moral and intelligent person to say, “parenting doesn’t matter” can only mean that parenting is defined as abuse free, which – epic fail, I’m sorry. This mistake on the part of a century’s socialization researchers is a classic. We think it’s here, so we’re looking here. A century later, parental influence doesn’t exist because we didn’t find it here, the only place we ever looked. And biology, in the form of one Brian Boutwell among others, has apparently accepted this mistake.

No blame, there is a strong, perhaps species wide self deception in place. We made this difficult for ourselves on purpose: nurture/child abuse is a protected behaviour. We aren’t supposed to see it.

 

This apparent puzzle (which is something of a scientific heresy) becomes clearer if we accept that genetic factors play an important role in making us who we are. Yes, the environment matters, but not just the environment that the child experiences in the home. The environment in this sense is far more nebulous and hard to nail down — behavioural geneticists call it the ‘non-shared’ environment and it includes anything that causes two siblings to be different from each other.

It is indeed hard to nail down, and it’s a point that they certainly hadn’t nailed it down during the twin studies, where it seems the different homes were supposed to be different environments, but along no particular vector, in some unknown, “families are all different” way that really had no detail, it was a black boxing exercise.

 

And I really mean anything. The psychologist Steven Pinker puts it this way: ‘A cosmic ray mutates a stretch of DNA, a neurotransmitter zigs instead of zags, the growth cone of an axon goes left instead of right, and one identical twin’s brain might gel into a slightly different configuration from the other’s.’ In other words, we should not presume that random chance plays a vanishingly small role in making us the people that we are today.

 

Beyond the randomness of life, we already have a window on to what parts of culture children are swayed by. Both Pinker and the psychologist Judith Rich Harris remind us that the children of immigrants adopt and speak with the accent and language of their peers. The movies people watch, the music we listen to, and much else that we’d put under the general heading of ‘culture’ are deeply affected by our peers. What else would you expect, really? Wanting and needing to fit in is not just a passing phase of childhood. To some extent, it’s essential for living.

 

So ‘the environment’ does play a role in shaping who we are, but it’s not ‘the environment’ in merely the conventional sense of how your folks parent you and your siblings.

The children’s peer group changes nothing regarding abuse. Allowing the children to abuse one another counts as parental abuse and/or neglect. The children’s stress is not smaller because it’s the older kids who will beat him into conformity rather than the parents. In fact, gene theory says the children have less reason not to finish him off, whereas the parents may think about their genes.

 

All of this is indicative of something deeper — an aspect which is less arcane and more relevant to daily life. A great many pundits, advice givers, and professional psychologists have spent decades being wrong about why people turn out the way they do.

 . . . and I have found it. Not “why they turn out the way they do” in terms of small differences, the twins who shared flushing the toilet before and after, these sorts of traits, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found your “something deeper,” the real mystery that these problematically powerless questions are trying to get at. Again, a protected behaviour, so within its logic, we can’t pose the right questions to crack the code; I came to it the long way around, very much by accident. Turns out it’s analogous to dark matter, invisible (that “nurture” means beatings and that “good people” means warriors, this, the core of what I call Antisocialization Theory, is sort of invisible), but comprising ninety percent of the matter in the universe. Ninety percent of our abuse is non-statutory and so invisible, and ninety percent of our social lives are lived in both halves of the causal realm around it, we abuse, and we are hurt, abused creatures, nine times more than we are happy, healthy ones. This is the ratio R. D. Laing was pointing us to when he said that “the disaster has already happened.”

When we start to see how the dark matter of generic, non-statutory abuse distorts and bends what we can see, the visible light in the universe, when we factor all that dark matter in, we will see our calculations making ten times more sense.

 

A child is not a blank canvas.

No, but the child is what it is, the point is what we paint and how we attempt to paint it, despite whether there was already a picture there or not. Not being “a blank canvass” hasn’t saved any kids their beatings, has it? The religious don’t think Blank Slate, doesn’t stop them. Biologists don’t think Blank Slate – has it stopped you? (I know your complaint. Blank Slaters are indeed guilty of child abuse, being one didn’t save kids either, and some of the abuse was in trying to eradicate some built-in natural thing because of the BS idea, but this is one of the ways the conversation needs to change to deal with the negative reality of what “nurture” really has been.)

How many books have been written about the way people should and should not parent their children? How many approaches have been suggested by experts who are not really in a position to know? Yes, they may hold advanced degrees, but the truth is that the advice they offer tends to ignore the genetic influences that we now know to be at work. The studies that identify those influences often find that parenting — unless it is actually malign — has very little impact on how children turn out. The huge ‘parenting advice’ industry is largely bunkum.

OK, so there it is, the exemption, “ . . . unless it is actually (malicious) . . . “

So, you do get that, it’s maybe you’re just a positive guy, you assume that malignancy is rare or something. It is getting more so, and that is terrific (also per Pinker), but that is putting the aboriginal truth of this situation further out of view: rare now is not meaningful as to why it never has been rare before, not useful in understanding just what this behaviour really is that we’re hoping to escape.

 

What does this mean for you if you’re a parent wanting to know how to raise a happy, well-adjusted child? I generally loathe parenting advice columns, so that is not what is on offer here. I can sympathise with the idea that having a child brings with it a host of responsibilities that are exciting but also terrifying.

 

At this point, I would turn again to the psychologist Judith Rich Harris, who authored the definitive book on this subject. Harris writes: ‘We may not hold their tomorrows in our hands but we surely hold their todays, and we have the power to make their todays very miserable.’

 

Pinker, meanwhile, makes the point that it should be enough for us to remember that our children are human beings, worthy of the same ethical treatment we give to our friends, other relatives, and even to strangers. So protect your children, provide for them, be good to them, and make memories with them. Apart from that, don’t expect to have very much say in how they turn out.

Hey, that’s getting better, Brian! You gave ‘em the hint. I can’t help but wonder if you’ve been reading me, or if for some other reason you felt you needed to do more than the Rockwell version after the first one of these that I saw. Whatever, you’re trending in a direction I can approve of, well done.

As for parenting advice, I agree, but I think I have a solid reason now. Parents should keep in mind that discipline makes warriors and out of work warriors are what we call criminals.

Jeff

June 15th., 2017

Consequences. The “Mimic Meme.”

I’m searching for a term, and I must apologize to any readers who have suffered through this with me: Dawkins’ “meme” is not it, that’s only part of the concept I require. Sorry to admit this, but I finally looked it up yesterday: Dawkins’, Blackmore’s, Dennett’s memes are simply ideas and such imbued with a life of their own with us as their environment. It’s about transmission and propagation, the suggestion being that ideas and such can be viewed as propagating themselves, and the analogy is with genes, and how our genes propagate themselves. If anything, what I am trying to articulate actually runs counter to that. If I’ve been impossible to understand it’s because I’ve made a terrible error by misappropriating the “meme” concept. My “meme” will show us to be the active agent in its transmission – even if we don’t know it. But the concept I need to give a name to is something like a “mimic meme,” a successful, dominant wolf meme that propagates itself in the guise of a sheep.
The “consequences” parenting social construct is certainly a dominant meme, nearly universal. It’s the idea that we can alter minds and behaviour with punishments, and that we must, or at least should, that it’s “how we learn.” Wait, too soon, too specific. A simple example of the mimic meme:
. . . researching . . .
Stop that or you’ll go blind? Wait, what’s the real reason? *
Ah. Maybe in other religious injunctions, like pork.
It’s not kosher or halal to eat pork, and one is to understand that some patriarch delivered the law direct from God, and so, many people in the Abrahamic traditions don’t eat pork (or other things), based on their religion, so maybe “God’s people don’t eat pork” is the meme that stops them – but we think there’s a real world reason too, the one that the religious injunction is situated on top of, when I was young it was worms, trichinosis. I’ve since read somewhere that the shade on pigs was government libel and slander, that nations have no use for pigs, they can’t be managed and used as easily as goats or sheep, that pigs were private, poor peoples’ livestock and the campaign against them was part of a (an Egyptian) government promotion of more industry friendly animals during their massive foreign labour building projects. These are all memes, and the truth of the matter may be none of them, but it shows the idea, a cover rationale – authority, God says, or identity, God’s people don’t – that has the effect of keeping pork out of mouths, and a real-world effect, people not getting worms, sheep taking over the world, that results from it.
Does that work?
Now that must be a known thing, certainly that story is a known one, so the concept must have a name already, right? If anyone knows it, please, remind me. It’s something like evolutionary convergence, isn’t it, where memes take completely different paths to produce the same effect? I need the word to say that these memes are true and these ones are merely expedient. I think the relativism around these ideas has all memes as expedient and truth as an irrelevant ideal, but we still need a word to differentiate the ones we’ve seen through from the ones we have not yet pierced.
I think maybe “mimic meme,” for now, pending my future education.
Or maybe I’m coining the term right now, in real time. I keep thinking I’m decades behind in all this, but as this latest error shows, sometimes I’m giving academia too much credit; I thought Dawkins’ meme was something more complicated than it really is, I assumed he was way ahead of me. As it really, is, the “meme” idea is now a no brainer, a basic building block of understanding the world. So, for all I know, the mimic meme really did need naming, I mean if the basic “meme” did. I keep letting my low self esteem get in the way of my low esteem of everyone else, but logically, just because I’m slow doesn’t mean everyone else isn’t too. Maybe the world really is in such a pitiable state that a nobody like me can have something to contribute.
So. On the off chance, here’s the mimic meme concept: sometimes we have a bogus story to explain our behaviour that is unrelated to the behaviour’s actual function, and as long as the behaviour is maintained, so is the function, despite our ignorance of what is really going on, of what in the function is meaningful. Read your Bible, remain worm free.
Ha! Now they’re coming up for me, and if “because I said so” isn’t the model for all of the mimic memes to follow, then . . . well, of course, “because I said so” isn’t what we’re supposed to learn about touching the stove or stepping into the street, of course it isn’t the real “reason” not to do those things, but it’s intended to have the same effect as the real reasons, namely keeping us away from the stove and the street. That’s a mimic meme for kids, I guess, because it’s one we learn our way out of as we grow up, or mostly, anyways.
But the consequences mimic meme, that’s one we don’t apparently grow out of.
It’s at the heart of what I’ve labelled Antisocialization Theory, my grand unification theory of abuse. Here it is again, one iteration of the text of the consequences mimic meme:
We can alter minds and behaviour with punishments, and we must, or at least we should, that it’s “how we learn.”
One observable effect of this meme is that humans beat their children, in an organized and social way. (Oh, shut up, we do too. At least we have been doing, for a long time. If there are epigenetic changes in response to abuse, and there are, then abuse has been around for a long time, it’s in our genome.)
The true function – “bio meme?” I can’t start that yet, can I? – would have some same effect, that we beat our children “regularly,” as per the old political trap/joke, in this case. All that remains to dissect this entire mimic is the true function of these beatings, in evolutionary terms – and what other kind are there – the reproductive advantage to our genes. This answer I deem to have been hidden to date, rendered invisible by the mimic meme sometime in our past. The trick of the mimic meme is to make it so . . . you can’t get there from here.
But you can get there from psychology, from social science.
Come over to the office, stretch out on the couch, and tell me: how did zees beatings make you feel?
Ah! That was it, the very instant, did you feel it? That was the moment in time when social science first had the creeping thought to stop playing coy, stop running for real and see what happens when that dirty boy, biology, catches her. I fancy that I, like Einstein, have reconciled two incompatible lines of thought, that I can see convergence, where social science and its subjects have their place in the biosphere and geneticists don’t need to avoid talk of the agency of entire organisms.
Back to Earth, or almost, social science has some pretty robust data regarding statutory abuse, and much of it includes parentage too: the documented effects and costs of child abuse appear to be safe from the attacks of the geneticists, at least from the attacks I’ve read, and I think we can pretty much agree: the parental/caregiver effects that we do see and see the science to match them with are the effects of abuse, of what we term the damages of abuse, all of the varieties, physical, emotional, cognitive, etc., etc. There are things that look bad about this “damages of abuse” meme also, and I have written and will continue to point out the things that look bad from my particular point of view about it, but we can just face this, can’t we: you beat a human child, especially regularly, and social science has established that there will be effects. More later, this is huge, but this is what we need to carry across our cognitive dissonance back to the social/biological conversation we’re having about the consequences mimic meme: documented effects of child-beating, which have always been, since Gershoff, Durrant, et al., increased incidence of: developmental problems, cognitive problems (poor grades in school), addictions, violence, crime, self harm, and all manner of disorders.
There is a confound, that what is “statutory” is not peer reviewed science, but it’s also clear that more children are beaten than there are parents busted for it. In a discussion of science, we all need to know we’re talking about biology when we say “beatings” and not law, that it’s a physical definition of “beating” I’m using and not some higher-level abstraction about it, including the threshold required for action by the law. The truth behind these statistics is better than the statistics can ever be. So now, again, the reproductive advantage gained from this human behaviour, from these clearly “negative social effects?”
Here I will respectfully suggest that “increased incidence of violence’’ is only a bad thing for your enemies generally, and that this is where the advantage is to be found: not so much in the mate market as on the battlefield.
This increase played out most tellingly in our species’ developing situation, with our little human or proto-human troop in sometimes violent competition with the neighbors, and plays out forever in our aboriginal, hunter gatherer groups and today in our larger, more complex ones. From long experience, and I hope not to insult anyone, but I feel the need to stop and remind us all at this point that we’ve said nothing new, nothing extraordinary here, in fact nothing controversial. This is all still in the realms of ‘everyone knows’ and ‘scientists know.’ Let’s recap.
1. We all know the “consequences” meme, humans raise their kids with it
2. The meme has us all hitting our kids (maybe until now)
3. Hitting kids has known effects, among which are antisocial behaviours, violence, and crime
4. Persistent, selected for behaviours (meaning, humans hitting their kids, documented since at least the Bronze Age) should have a net reproductive advantage, or be tied to one
5. There is a majority consensus among scientists that something in that scenario, our long, aboriginal group competitions was what created our outsized craniums and all that goes with it
I imagine the ways in which “aggression” gives organisms a reproductive advantage are well documented, so that I shouldn’t have to show how “an increased incidence” of it (by any other name) would bring an “increased incidence” of its advantages. Suffice to say, we have probably not out-competed the rest of the apes by being nicer than them, and deep roots of war or not, there have been battles and many lines have not survived. Never mind the apes, there are at least five human species that have disappeared just in the last fifty thousand years, and those are only the ones where we’ve found the bodies. And yes, for the biologists, it does suggest a tournament sort of mindset, groups in competition, driving one another to be stronger, by any and all means. Including, and this is the central thing here: creating abuse where there was none in order to leverage our epigenetic response to it. The deep roots of war thing is not a given, it is an option that we exercise.
I’m not sure anyone has considered this piece of the puzzle, our conscious, very much active role in creating our own natures in this way.
I’ve seen it the other way around, war causing stress, causing an horrific documented rise in abuse of all sorts, parental included – as though something other than humanity were imposing this war business on us, as though culture created Man, as though the causality in it all were exactly backwards, as though the chicken came before the egg. Which, by the way, is not a riddle to a biologist, to someone who believes in evolution, someone who knows that there weren’t always chickens.
It seems self evident to me, that the increased violence and antisocial feelings and behaviour are the most likely relevant effects that the consequences mimic meme supports and camouflages by having us beat our children “to teach them manners.” To point out the disparity, what the mimic meme means, note that if one beating doesn’t create the manners we wanted, and if ten doesn’t either, then our consequences don’t work to teach manners – but to keep trying is not pointless, not to the true function. The kid may never say his ‘please and thank you’s, but if you persist, the true function will be accomplished, at least at a far greater frequency than the false one. **
Again, the true function being to produce antisocial feelings, much of what we WEIRD folks today think of as our damage, the negative outcomes we associate with abuse. To understand it, we need to imagine our evolving proto-human and aboriginal situation, the one we evolved in and for, before we found a way to live among thousands and millions of strangers in relative safety. I found the clue in The Nurture Assumption, something Harris had gleaned regarding primitive warrior societies, that while making her point about the children’s group being the relevant social group, where society is taught and learned, she told of how passive boys are teased and goaded to fight, to the point of being killed if they never do fight back. Aboriginal warrior society groups are small, and all the men are warriors, there are no resources for slackers. Violence is always the cure for a lack of it, and fight or die as a passive kid will have to do, there are no slackers and the tribe is strong.
That’s not the consequences meme in action, but it proves the point that abuse is how you make a soldier of a human who isn’t one, or enough of one, and that is antisocialization. It works straight up like that too, it doesn’t require self deceptions or unconsciousness, it only requires the beatings. The mimic meme, that just prevents us from stopping it even when our goals have changed, keeps the behaviour safe from tampering by our fickle, conscious minds. (Probably for the solid reason that just because my family, my group sees it and decides to stop – and I did in fact – doesn’t mean the neighbors all had the same insight at once. This would amount to a lethal meme mutation, perhaps.)
I am imagining that our goals are changing, have changed, at least most of ours. I think it’s time, since many of our goals are moving already, to examine in what realm and direction it is we are hoping to move. I know my personal parenting goals changed long before I had worked out what the “normal” parenting practises were in support of. I offer this insight, my view, for knowledge, for posterity, not because I have a plan for us, not because I think we should change what we’re doing now, but just to put it out there, get it into our heads, and maybe in small ways, maybe a little more often we start to remember that abuse in any measure is to make us soldiers in some measure, and that it really isn’t necessary to show a kid how the toilet works.
Maybe when we see the horribly antisocial act of some criminal, we can stop imagining that society did not nearly intentionally mandate that the criminal and all of us be antisocial to some degree, and consider that rather than that our parenting and social efforts upon them have failed, that our conflicting efforts to antisocialize them have simply succeeded too well. I’m sure a case can be made for the selection of berserkers, that until we WEIRDs took over, they had their place in our aboriginal societies, in our warrior cultures.
When a better meme inhabits our minds, things will begin to make sense. I imagine, if the idea can even get started (it’s probably a lethal mutation, so possibly unlikely), then we’ll have a better idea what to do about it in another generation or two.
I feel I’d be somehow lying to us all if I don’t address this about it, the non-viable mutation aspect.
This stuff is dangerous.
I’m not a hundred percent sure of this, but the existence of this pervasive meme suggests it’s something that we at least think is mission critical, that our child-beating behaviour is something we have set up and then built this protective cover over, because it’s a survival mechanism, one we at least think we shouldn’t have access to, like we think elected officials shouldn’t have the power to change voting laws. Any human group who thinks to stop doing it is at dire risk from the neighbors who have not, we think, so the human groups who are still here to talk about it have locked that door and lost the key. Forbidden fruit, this sort of self-knowledge? Perhaps. Again, an obfuscating meme that protects a behaviour that controls for aggression – and this is what I’m trying to describe – there is some lifetime achievement Darwin hubris award for the fellow who messes that up, isn’t there?
OK, fine. I’ll do it.
Hold my beer.

Jeff
Updated,
June 7th., 2017
* I guess biology does offer one. We say “stop that or you’ll go blind,” and if any of us do stop, then even more young ladies get pregnant, maybe.
** insert a rapidly growing list of epigenetic effects that function based in adversity of environment in childhood, and the general idea of genetics and epigenetics somewhere in here. I’ve considered it as a given.

The Abusive Ape Theory, in Pill Form

I’m a moron, because it took me my entire fucking life to figure it out, but I’m going to see if I can fit it into a tweet.

The “consequences” parenting construct is the child-rearing model for warrior societies, possibly meaning for human societies, albeit with exceptions. The efficacy of our consequences has always been debatable, but the evidence of the effects of abuse are clear, and it is these effects that human parents can and do create in our children. This is the power of nurturing and of parenting. This process I call antisocialization, our socialization to the dark side of things, our fears, our hate, and our violence. The truth behind the “consequences” social meme is that we are self-actualized warriors, that we discipline our children for reasons that some of our fathers told us: we deem ourselves to be too nice, and we have learned that abuse toughens us up. In genetic terms, we have learned to operate our own epigenetic levers, the ones that respond to adverse, abusive environments. Antisocialization Theory says that Christian Original Sin is a part of the “consequences” social construct and that in reality, humans know themselves to be too nice by our natures to compete with the neighbors, that indeed, we are born sinless.

Jeff

May 19th., 2017

It’s a Child’s World

. . . yeah, I probably don’t mean that the way you’d think.

This isn’t that the children are our future, or that we are only renting here and giving up our damage deposit when that was supposed to be for them instead. I’m talking, as usual perhaps, about the Nurture Assumption, and today more about the book by Judith Rich Harris than the assumption itself.

Ms. Rich Harris has the most wonderful writing voice. I imagine any man or reasonably flexible woman who has read her has fallen in love; I certainly did. So, the nurture assumption, that we all assume that we mould our children somehow into acceptable adults is the primary proposition in the book, but it is perhaps the second largest point in it that it seems to be our childhood peer group that moulds our personalities instead. Now, I’m ignorantly arrogant and suspicious, so I haven’t quite made my mind up about that bit just yet, there may be more to it, but if it’s true, or mostly true – and it is, at least mostly – then human culture is children’s culture, right? Or rather, human culture is developmentally arrested at some point in childhood.

Ladies, I have to ask – does this strike a chord, a feminist chord? Haven’t you always known you’re up against grown men’s bodies inhabited by the souls of angry young boys?

The basic, aboriginal scenario she described (from many years of reading and writing textbooks on the subject) is a village of sixty to a hundred and sixty people, perhaps three main family lines, and mothers having babies every two or three years – at which point the previous child is weaned and let outside to join the children’s group. Here, we learn and grow, and graduate to have our own children. Adult personality testing shows our grown personalities to show far more conformity with the children’s peer group than with our parents.

Sometimes if we’ve only just heard this, I imagine it takes a second to sink in, but another way to state the scenario Rich Harris describes (I don’t think she put it this way), is this: we are somehow immune to intergenerational learning and we mostly don’t know a thing that every child doesn’t know. Maybe we can learn throughout our lives (I hope so, I’m about to retire and planning to keep trying), but our ability to pass it on to children is severely impeded once we are of breeding age ourselves!

Now, I think that’s a sort of an argument for a general cause to support some vague idea of our adult “children’s culture,” but I have something of my own to add, namely that the means and ways of this “influence” and “socialization” that happens in the children’s group happen to be the same ways and means that parents are so valiantly trying to justify with the nurture assumption: abuse. Abuse in a generic sort of sense, sure, but in all senses.

We can say that parents use rough methods at home and that the children perhaps emulate, or we can say that the parents have only just exited the children’s group where that was the way of life as well, the ways and means of conformity and organization, and that they simply carry on as they always have in the group, albeit with younger children for perhaps the first time. It’s a circle of life sort of thing. Personally, I have chosen to blame the parents for this vicious cycle, because for the most part they are older and closer to some definition of legal responsibility – but also, because we have been trying to get the kids to stop hitting each other for years already and that just isn’t working out! I think we should try stopping the adults, see if that works better.

That was a bit of me, but really, that is the implication of the children’s peer group, has to be, right? That the social pressure during our formative years, that the society this testing shows we conform to is the society of pre-pubescents. There’s a nibble for the biologists in it, too. Part of the theory is that your parents aren’t so likely to beat you to death as the peer group is, because the gene relation is closer, so that we conform to the bigger threat, the more realistic threat. The Nurture Assumption spelled it out graphically in terms of hunter-gatherer warrior societies, where if a boy won’t fight, he is tormented until he either fights back or is killed. One presumes there are very few adult pacifists.

Perhaps it’s not so sad that we are living a life designed and enforced by children because of their inexperience, but rather that the structure of our society is formed from experience that includes a lot of boyish competition and violence. I’m not sure about that, and this is absolutely a thought in progress . . . I’m postulating this, the eternal children’s group and the associated adult “children’s culture” – and a different, first generation adult culture in every generation? Again, we can learn, it’s only that adults can’t teach kids, at least not social things. But the eternal, timeless children’s culture of might is right (and sex doesn’t matter?), the unconscious side of our culture, and the adult side where things change and evolve . . . ?

I think I’ve taken this as far as I can . . .

Cheers, folks.

Thoughts?

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2017